This post is prompted by my caring for your altar post. Marie Kondo has become a verb. I admit I haven’t read her book or watched her show, although it was the topic of some radio programs I listen to. But at this point the idea has seeped into the over culture.
First the good of minimalism: it questions American capitalism. There is so much messaging and outright manipulation to get us to buy stuff. The idea that somehow this brand or this product will make you happy, or that a person’s sense of self is tied up in what they buy is part of the message. This is why I hate Christmas, because so much of it is about shopping and getting things for people. I do think Kondo has a point of taking everything out and seeing it all together. Sometimes we don’t realize how much stuff we have until it is laid out in front of us.
Stuff is cheap. The problem is we rarely see the cost of things being so cheap. I stopped hitting the clearance section when I realized I was getting rid of most of the stuff I bought, making it not only a waste of money but time, space, and resources. Cheap stuff has a high environmental cost. Ironically, because is cheap and plentiful it is also worthless and meaningless.
I like the idea of asking do I really need this? Both when going through what you own and stopping a moment before buying. Honestly, cutting back on impulse buys really does help the pocketbook.
I also like the idea of getting something that has meaning, that is unique and not just another whatever that can be found in any chain store. This is why I so like getting hand made or crafted items. It does require saving money and being more discerning about what you purchase. I am of the opinion it is best to spend a little more to get what moves you. Also its good to spend a moment thinking of where the money will go once it is out of your hands.
The bad part of minimalism is it can go too far. I personally hate bare walls. While I can see thinning items out, that doesn’t mean get rid of everything. Also, there are things people need that take up space like furniture, baby gear, and the Outlander collector’s edition. If something tells a story and has meaning—who gave it to you, bought while travelling, inherited, etc by all means keep it. I have a stuffed Miss Piggy and copy of Alice in Wonderland my grandfather who has now passed gave me that are never leaving my side. America has evolved too much sameness, with strip malls that are Anywhere USA. Keep objects that are unique.
It can also become a new status symbol or identity. It is also an idea that can fail to acknowledge some people don’t have the money to replace stuff if they realize they actually needed that, so for them hanging on to everything is a good strategy.